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12 - 14 September, 2003
Caving Trip at
Franklin, WV
by Rick Frey

The spirit of adventure and exploration was alive and strong in the mountains of West Virginia while 5 members of the Grotto tackled three caves. The weekend seemed an unlikely one with constant rain and half of the East Coast preparing for Hurricane Isabel. Sept 13th however turned out to be an excellent day for caving. Rita Klimas, Richard Frey, DeAuna Frey, Lauren Herrada, and Hailey Frey all participated in the daylong adventure.  For all the cavers except Rita, this had been their first wild caving experience. 

The first cave, Kenny Simmons Cave was an extremely well picked out cave for two girls ages 4 and 9.  All though it did take a little coaxing, both girls loved crawling through the mud and finding a small room that had been dug out in hopes of finding more passages. What seemed like only a small amount of mud inside the cave suddenly became a nightmare as Hailey emerged from the cave covered head to toe.  "Oh my gosh, Mom, look at all this mud. I can't believe I'm wearing all this mud," Hailey repeated over and over again after seeing herself in the daylight.  She refused to step foot in another cave again. (A week latter, she finally calmed down and did agree to go caving again.) 

Lauren, on the other hand, could not have been any more excited about all of it and was extremely disappointed that she was not allowed to enter Keys cave a few hours latter.  Rita and Rick were the only ones to enter Keys cave.  By chance, the group of Boy Scouts that had been camping next to them were on their way out as Rita and Rick were on their way in.  Quietly, in hopeful anticipation, they hide behind a large boulder and waited patiently for the young scouts to pass.  They waited...very patiently....and waited....and the scouts never moved. With the disappointment of a practical joke gone bust, they walked up the passage to meet them.  They were having lunch....  So after introducing themselves and signing the cave log they continued their trip. 

Keys cave consisted of an amazing amount of crawling with a little canyoning and chimneying.  Both explorers climbed (crawled) through the entire cave in only a few short hours.  Upon returning, Rick told his wife, "I can't ever remember feeling this sore before."  After dinner, it was back to caving again.  This time Rita, Rick, and Lauren explored a small cave just few minutes walk away, McCoy's Mill.  It was a great cave to end the day with.  It was easy enough that the already exhausted adults were not overcome, but challenging enough that Lauren was able to enjoy the excitement of exploration.

The next morning everyone headed home anxious to go caving again.  A special thanks to Rita for taking the time to make the trip a success.


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